The Calgary Flames vs Dallas Stars series has been one of the more entertaining series through three games. Entering the series you would have thought it would have been the top line of the Flames dominating the headlines. Instead, it is the depth on the Flames roster that is stepping up. The Calgary Flames secondary scoring has propelled them to a 2-1 series lead over the Stars in the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. While the top line for the Flames needs to step up, the Calgary Flames must continue to get secondary scoring in order to win the series and advance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Calgary Flames Secondary Scoring Outstanding During Stanley Cup Playoffs
Second and Third Lines
If you have been watching this series closely, you will notice that it is not players like Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau or Elias Lindholm leading the way for the Flames in the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Instead, the Flames are being led by Milan Lucic, Dillon Dube, Sam Bennett, Tobias Rieder, and Mikael Backlund. It was apparent in Games 1 and 2 that head coach Geoff Ward rather keep that third line out there to take offensive zone draws than bring out the big guns. Ward has more confidence in that line right now than he does in the top line.
Notice how the Lucic-Bennett-Dube line stays out for there for their third faceoff to begin the game. Ward has no problem allowing them to stay out there for an important offensive zone face-off so early in the game. With Dube and Lucic being the driving force of the offence this series, the reasoning to keep them out makes total sense. Not to mention entering Game 2, Dube had three goals in his last two games. With his goal to open the scoring for the third straight game for the Flames, he now has four goals in three goals.
And what about his linemate Milan Lucic. Lucic is having a resurgence for the Flames this post-season. Through seven games, he has five points (one goal and four assists). He is playing like his old self. Wanting to be physical and getting into the dirty areas on the ice. Not to mention he has been a wizard in the face-off circle this postseason winning 56.5 percent of the draws he has taken. His face-off win allowed the Flames to get the opening goal in Game 2. And while Sam Bennett had a bad line change in Game 2, he is feeding off what Dube and Lucic are doing on the ice. Having secondary scoring like this does make life easier for the Calgary Flames.
Flames Top Line Must Start Scoring
Then there is the top line for the Flames. For whatever reason, they have not been able to get things going 5-on-5. Now granted they are not getting the important draws like they should. However, that does not mean this line should be producing this poorly. Instead of trying to create space out there, they are waiting for things to open up. That is not a recipe for success in the playoffs.
Johnny Gaudreau has some of the best edge work in the game, but he is not using it to his advantage. This has been a big problem for him this postseason. He is a great regular season player, but once the playoffs come he looks small. Teams are able to rough him up and he does not have a response for it.
Unlike what we are seeing with the Vancouver Canucks and Elias Pettersson. Pettersson got roughed up by the Minnesota Wild in the qualifying round. But instead of complaining about it, he dished out his own big hits, which created space out on the ice. Since then Pettersson has been able to capitalize on his scoring chances.
While physicality might not be his best attribute, Gaudreau needs to show he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. Gaudreau along with the rest of his line can’t be afraid of physical play. Good players are able to create opportunities when there is a challenge facing them head-on. The Flames will need them to start producing especially if they advance further in the playoffs.
Along with Calgary Flames secondary scoring, the special teams of the Flames has been electric. As mentioned in our series preview the Stars needed to stay away from the Flames power play. The Flames connected on their chances in Games 1 and 2. However, it is the penalty kill for the Flames that has gotten better as these playoffs have gone along.
They were able to keep the Stars’ top power play unit at bay in Game 3 while scoring a short-handed goal. Having a penalty kill that can score goals is vital in the playoffs. Not only does it take momentum away from the team on the power play, but it allows the team short-handed to get the momentum of their own.
With Backlund chipping in short-handed, the Flames who looked tired to begin the game were able to start playing their style of game. From there the Flames fed off that goal and T.J. Brodie added an insurance marker with Cam Talbot holding the Stars at bay.
When your best penalty killer is your goalie, that means the guys in front of him are doing something right. The Flames will want to continue this trend into Game 4 Sunday Afternoon.